This week, Ladue News spoke with Deane Bernoudy Hawkins, great-niece of William Adair Bernoudy, about the architect’s family legacy, how he felt about life in St. Louis, and how he might view the upcoming Ladue News Show House, which he designed in 1960 for the Horan family in Town & Country. The 2012 William Bernoudy Ladue News Show House opens Oct. 5 and runs through Oct. 21.
LN: What do you think about the Show House, which celebrates the work of your great-uncle and underscores its timeless appeal?
DBH: Our family is excited that Ladue News is featuring his home and helping to preserve the memory of his work. He loved St. Louis, and he was dedicated to bringing fine art and culture to the area. Bill and his wife, Gertrude, were very generous in their support of all types of art, as well as great supporters of animals and the underdog. They led a truly amazing life, and their legacy lives on in the homes, museums, universities and temples he built and at the Humane Society. I think he would be thrilled that his work is still being recognized as pioneering and significant.
LN: Did you know your uncle very well?
DBH: Bill is my great-uncle, the brother of my paternal grandfather, Jerome Bernoudy. Growing up, we periodically visited with Bill and Gertrude at their home on Litzsinger Road.
LN: What was the Bernoudys’ own home like?
DBH: Bill and Gertrude had a beautiful, simple home. It was open and airy with artwork displayed throughout. The home also highlighted several of Bill’s stained-glass pieces, which we always loved. In the garden, Lipchitz’s Birth of the Muses was featured and could be seen from the living room. (It is on display at the Missouri Botanical Garden now.)
LN: How would you describe your uncle’s personal style and personality?
DBH: Bill and Gertrude were always impeccably dressed, their home was immaculate and they always seemed so sophisticated. Whenever you were in their home, they were warm and welcoming and had a tale to tell, whether it was about a family member or a famous artist. Despite the people they knew and the status they had, they were always gracious hosts and made everyone feel welcome.
LN: Was your uncle accessible, or did he seem to belong to the realm of intellectuals and artists?
DBH: Bill never seemed inaccessible to me as a child because he was just a part of the family. We knew he was ‘important’ and well-known, but it was not made to be a big deal. If anything, he seemed genuine and kind. At the time, I was more impressed by the art side because their home was filled with famous works of art, in particular, works by Picasso. Ironically, Gertrude seemed more inaccessible because we actually knew of the people she was connected to in the art world, and she was so glamorous! That was very impressive to us as kids!
LN: Do you remember much about the houses he designed?
DBH: As a child, I only really knew of two of the homes he designed: his own and one that was owned by a cousin on my mother’s side. In all honesty, my memory of the homes is that they didn’t have any place to play inside—just really awesome yards!
LN: When did your uncle’s architectural work become celebrated in St. Louis? What was that experience like for him?
DBH: Bill’s work was recognized by the St. Louis area long before I was alive, so he was already in the spotlight when I was a child. He was very humble about his accomplishments. He and Gertrude were more likely to tell a story about someone else’s accomplishments, or about an animal in need.
LN: Do you have any insights into how your uncle felt about his life in St. Louis?
DBH: Bill had a great affection for St. Louis. He traveled the world and interacted with some of the most interesting people of his time, but always considered St. Louis home. He loved St. Louis, and I know he would be proud to have left his mark in the architecture world here.